Norwich City council workers vote for strike action over broken promises on pay and conditions

Workers who carry out vital services for Norwich City Council have overwhelmingly backed strike action after bosses broke promises on pay.

UNISON and Unite members backed strikes by 82% and 83% respectively.

The unions will now begin preparations to announce strike dates at the council’s new arm’s length company, Norwich City Services Ltd (NCSL).

Talks with Norwich City Council about NCSL started in 2018. The company has been set up to bring services, including ground maintenance and street cleaning, which had been outsourced to county council-owned Norse, back in-house.

But managers are not delivering on city council commitments to harmonise NCSL workers’ pay, terms and conditions with their directly employed colleagues.

The workers transferring in have some of the lowest pay rates and terms of employment; much worse than any council worker. The company’s offer on pay, sickness and holidays falls well short of what is required to make progress on equality, plus new managers are being recruited on superior terms and conditions to existing staff.

The trade unions remain open to discussions, but are warning that their members’ overwhelming support for action should be a signal to NCSL that it needs to significantly improve its offer to avoid disruption in the city. The workers carry out vital services including street cleaning, grave digging and the maintenance of the parks and gardens.

UNISON Norfolk County branch secretary Jonathan Dunning said: “None of our members want to take strike action, after all they deliver important services that the public rely upon.

“However they are not prepared to accept a pay deal that sells them short and reneges on commitments they were given by the city council. They are being treated as second-class workers by NCSL and the council.

“All they seek is equality with their city council colleagues and their reasonable pay claim is merely a first step to achieving this.”

Unite regional officer Adam Oakes said: “Our members have sent a clear message to their employer that they are not prepared to accept terms and conditions that are inferior to their directly employed Norwich City Council colleagues.

“The council needs to honour the commitments it has made to these workers who are low paid, who do not get company sick pay and are not part of the local government pension scheme.

“These men and women work outside in all weather conditions keeping the city and it parks and gardens clean. They provide vital services such as grave digging and collecting up dangerous objects.

“Members of both Unite and UNISON are overwhelmingly united in their support for an industrial action. We urge management to get around the negotiating table to agree a fair deal for the staff.”